Moaning Silence: “The Fall from paradise leads to the unknown, to insecurity and nakedness which, in a way, it can be a waltz into darkness”

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Moaning Silence dances «A Waltz into Darkness», with Martha Giannakidou as a pixie holding the veil of mystery, for the shake of Rockpages. Having established themselves on the top of their genre, three members of the band are creating a melodic picture full of words and images, thoughts and emotions. Eleftheria Aggeloudi (vocals), Christos Ntounis (vocals, guitars, lyrics, composition) and Vangelis x (drums) are talking about the respect of vocal performance, Nina Simone, the stereotypical beliefs in the rock/metal community, Queen and Michael Kiske, the preservation of mental balance, Cornell Woolrich, John Milton, C.P. Cavafy and Nikos Kazantzakis, the lonely process of composition and the endurance. As Christos Ntounis points out «There is always pain, sorrow and grief. They are compatible with the human existence. It is not something new. They may differ in the way that they are created but, the essence is the same». Interview by Martha Giannakidou & Nikos Kolitsis

Rockpages.gr:Eleftheria, you are the latest singer of Moaning Silence for the third album, titled “I am the sorrow”. Does this raise a question of a vocal comparison and competition? How challenging is to perform material in concerts that has been recorded by the previous female singers, especially, on a music stage where the voice is usually connected to the lead singer of a band?

Eleftheria Aggeloudi: Personally, l believe that any vocal comparison would be pointless. Every voice is unique and beautiful on its own way. When someone sings songs that has been initially performed by another person, (s)he should approach them with respect and get inspired without trying to imitate the original performer. In this way, a singer can successfully keep a balance between the first performance while also adding his/ her own personal style.

Rockpages.gr: Are there any  Greek or foreign singers, apart from the rock/metal community, that you look up to and you would like them to have expressed  their admiration for your vocal performance in Moaning Silence?

Eleftheria Aggeloudi: Ideally, I would like Nina Simone to provide positive feedback on my performance in the band. Perhaps l’ll find out, if this is the case, in another world or dimension!

Rockpages.gr: In 2020, have you felt that there are gender stereotypes expressed especially by male artists? Is there a stereotypical first reaction by those who don’t know you and they find out that you’re the female voice of a Greek rock/metal band with English songs and lyrics?

Eleftheria Aggeloudi: These kind of beliefs are rare nowadays as there are rock/metal bands in Greece that are doing an amazing job. Personally, l haven’t received any stereotypical behavior neither from men nor women.

Rockpages.gr: If you had the opportunity to become once the drummer of your personal favourite rock/metal band for a live performance, which band would you choose and in which city would you like to perform? If only this assumption came true, do you believe that the band would invite you to join them tour with them and contribute in their upcoming album?

Vangelis x: I believe that same as every football fan would like to watch a final game in Wembley, the same way, I’d like to be present in Queen’s performance at Live-Aid in 1985. I’m not the biggest fan of Queen but l think that day left a mark in history and l’d have liked to be a part of it.

Rockpages.gr: What were your first musical influences and what led you to choose the drums? If you could invite to perform live together with some of the greatest musicians, who would you call and what would you like to say to them about Moaning Silence?

Vangelis x: Chris (the band’s guitarist) is responsible for my musical growth! Back in the mid-90s, he must have given me a cassette of Helloween or Stratovarious to listen to and that was it. Within a year, l had listened every classic or power metal band.

As far as the choice of the drums, l had to play them -nobody in the band could do it back in the days-. At least, now we are not playing in the same rhythms of that time, as the fast parts of Moaning Silence are not so many!

I must admit that I would like Michael Kiske to sing a duet with Eleftheria. Maybe we are used to his powerful moments and sometimes we recall them but, when his speed was slower, we got chills! Also, l would like to tell him about the very beautiful atmosphere in the songs of Moaning Silence.

Rockpages.gr: In what way the band contributed to keep a balance in your soul and personal life in correlation with the summer’s sun flares and winter’s cold weather? As the founder, lyricist, composer and guitarist of the band, which of the songs and music of your latest album could beautifully accompany a Greek or foreign movie even a book or a poem? Which element of nature would you choose to dance in the rhythm of your song “A Waltz Into Darkness”?

Christos Νtounis: I’m the kind of person who loves winter and waits for the summer to come. I think there should be a balance in everything we do. When somebody expresses himself through art, he fills his soul and he displays his inner feelings.

I’m not a professional musician so, all the preparation and work is done in my free time. It is not very easy to cope with it but, l truly believe that music can play a significant role in your mental health and well-being!

The title of the album is inspired by the novel of Cornell Woolrich. It may seem trite but, l think the album could ideally accompany John’s Milton work “Paradise Lost”. The Fall from paradise leads to the unknown, to insecurity and nakedness which, in a way, it can be a waltz into darkness. The last song “Lights of Alexandria”, that closes the album, is inspired by the Greek poem “The Gods Abandons Anthony” written by C.P. Cavafy. Thus, l would invite “Hope” -a more abstract meaning- for a waltz into darkness.

Rockpages.gr: As the main composer and lyricist of the band, what’s the most unexpected source of inspiration and what’s your journey through literature to find your lyrics? Also, how do you form your ideas that led you to your final creation? Is there any other person that assesses your work apart from you or composition is merely a lonely process?

Christos Νtounis: Composition to me, is clearly a personal and lonely process. I always start with a beautiful title for each song. I may get inspired by something I see, listen or read which becomes the basis for writing lyrics. Lyrics may include some contradictions -even our name has two opposite elements- as they cast doubt on anything that can be taken for granted. That’s usually the way a dialogue between male and female vocals is created.

The instrumental part follows where the process is more specific. You have to go note by note, metre by metre, part by part in order to create something that really moves you when you listen to it. Only then, I know that the song has been completed.

This is something I do for myself, in order to feel good and if somebody is touched by my music, I will be even happier.

Rockpages.gr: As a member of the Moaning Silence band, and while producing multiple records, what were progressively these years the challenges you faced and the most disappointing moments until the release of your latest record. Additionally, what was your most deceitful dream and the most exciting moments you’ve had as a member of the group?

Christos Νtounis: As I usually say, nowadays it is the easiest thing to find musicians, record an album and then release it on social media. Apart from writing beautiful songs, the greatest challenge and the ultimate goal is being a long-lasting band. If we will be here ten years from now, discussing for yet another album of the Moaning Silence, this will be the biggest affirmation, our ultimate dream.

I’m sure that many moments of excitement or disappointment are yet to come, as music does not differ from everyday life. We were excited when we released our first album and disappointed at the same time because we didn’t have the chance to perform live. All these can only dig your heels in to continue and reach your final goal which personally for me is Moaning Silence to become a long-lasting band.

Rockpages.gr: “Sitting here by the fire, reach the core of my soul Bleeding thorns of desire, tear the canvas of dawn” (Song for Winter). Which painting, poem and wine would best imprint the lyrics above?

Christos Νtounis: I wouldn’t say that I’m quite familiar with wines. The first thing that comes to my mind, it is not a painting but the picture of Jesus on the cross. It needs courage to get into the core of his mind and see what he might think and hope for the moment of his crucifixion. I could only relate this thought with the novel “The Last temptation of Christ” written by Nikos Kazantzakis.

Rockpages.gr: “Mirrors hide the wretched face of love Enter my realm, confess your desire Pain and grief are both the toll for tomorrow” (I Am The Sorrow). How “pain and grief” is reflected in the modern life and how music can have a psychotherapeutic effect?

Christos Νtounis: As far as the effectiveness of music in mental health, according to scientific research, it is proven that it can help people, even those suffering from severe mental diseases, and make them functional and active members of the society. There is always pain, sorrow and grief. They are compatible with the human existence. It is not something new. They may differ in the way that they are created but, the essence is the same.

In the song “I Am The Sorrow”, the female hero suffers from depression, which is very common nowadays. What’s the meaning behind it? She has to suffer and mourn before she leaves her old self and move on. She needs to close this circle, otherwise it will haunt her forever.

In the same way, each one of us has to undergo this painful process of self-consciousness, get to know his own self, deal with the problem and in the end accept it. Only then, he will be ready for the next step and move on. Music constitutes a great tool to all this process.